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New ranking: 10 biggest U.S. utility-scale solar investors in 2010

Ever wonder what your local electric utility company is really doing behind the scenes when it comes to renewable energy investments? It will take some digging to figure that out, of course, but meanwhile, we have the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) to keep us abreast of utility-scale solar investments across the United States.

Ever wonder what your local electric utility company is really doing behind the scenes when it comes to renewable energy investments? It will take some digging to figure that out, of course, but meanwhile, we have the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) to keep us abreast of utility-scale solar investments across the United States. The organization has just released its top utility solar rankings, based on activity in 2010. During the year, the top players integrated 561 megawatts of solar capacity, which was a 100 percent growth rate year-over-year.

There are two trends that SEPA notes in its update (before I get to the actual list).

  1. More of the growth in utility-scale solar came from non-traditional areas of the United States (i.e., NOT in California)
  2. More of the projects were funded at least in part through third-party power purchase agreements. That's where some commercial or private sector entity commits to buying a certain portion of the capacity over a period of time. (Often, up to 20 years.)

And now, here is the ranking. This list explicitly covers solar capacity that was installed during 2010. It covers both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies. The number I am providing is the amount of capacity that was installed during the year, not the utility's total solar portfolio.

  1. Pacific Gas & Electric (157.3 MW-ac)
  2. Florida Power & Light (87.2 MW-ac)
  3. Public Service Electric & Gas (74.7 MW-ac)
  4. Southern California Edison (68.4 MW-ac)
  5. Xcel Energy (42 MW-ac)
  6. Tri-State G&T Co-op Association (30.2 MW-ac)
  7. Arizona Public Service (29.9 MW-ac)
  8. San Diego Gas & Electric (27.1 MW-ac)
  9. Jersey Central Power & Light (22.9 MW-ac)
  10. Duke Energy Carolinas (20.8 MW-ac)

A couple of things to note from that ranking. First off, Florida Power & Light jumped up into the No. 2 spot from No. 4 in the previous year. In addition, there are two brand new companies/organizations on this list, when you compare it with the previous year: Tri-State G&T and Jersey Central Power & Light.